What does the Bible say about believers (Christians) living in a non-Christian (pagan) society?
A quick flip-through of the New Testament reveals 5 direct passages about Christian living/life/instruction for Christian households/etc. (Ephesians 4:1-6:9, and Galatians 5:13-26, and Colossians 3:1-25, and 1 Peter 2:11-3:7, and 1 Peter 4:1-11). These passages should make a good basis for Christians anywhere and everywhere.
What are some highlights of instructions on Christian living?
Serve each other humbly in love. Have the fruit of the spirit. Be gentle. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. Put off old self. Don't sin in anger. Work, not steal. Avoid unwholesome talk. Speak what builds others up. Be kind and compassionate and forgiving. Do not use obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking. Submit to one another. Children obey parents. Wives submit to husbands. Husbands love wives. Parents don't exasperate children. Submit to authority. Show respect to everyone. Honor rulers. Don't get beauty from outward adornment. Offer hospitality without grumbling.
Woah. Hold up. Submit to authorities? This cannot apply to me. Doesn't God know that I am living in a pagan/non-Christian society??? Surely He is not instructing ME to submit to my governing authorities; they're doing all sorts of anti-Christian things!!
I think the Biblical commandment of submitting (even to authority) is still valid. Why do I think the Biblical guideline of submitting to authorities is still valid? I found several passages in the Bible that support this notion.
1. Jesus knew how pagans use (mis-use) authority. (See Matt 20:25-28, Mark 10:42-45, and Luke 22:25-27)
2. Jesus has ALL authority given to Him. Christ is above all authority. (See Matt 28:18 and Colossians 2:10, respectively)
3. The ungodly reject authority. God knows how to rescue to godly & punish the unrighteous (especially those who despise authority). (See Jude 1:8 and 2 Peter 2:4-10, respectively)
Since we don't want to be ungodly, how are we instructed to do interact with the authorities?
A) We are instructed to not only submit to authorities, but also to give respect and honor if we owe that. (See Romans 13:1-7)
B) We are instructed to pray for those in authority. (See 1 Tim. 2:1-3)
C) We are instructed to have confidence in and submit to leaders. (See Heb. 13:17)
D) We are instructed to submit ourselves to human authorities & give them honor. (See 1 Peter 2:12-17)
E) We are to be subject to & obedient to authorities, and to slander no one. (Titus 3:1-2).
Yes, if there is a question of obeying God or obeying man, the apostles set the precedent to choose God over man. So we aren't to break a law of God at the order of the men, but with the exception of man ordering us to break God's law, we are to submit to and even respect authority.
Isn't it interesting that Christians are instructed to obey authority (to be obedient)? To submit to them? To pray for them? To have confidence (trust) in? To give respect and honor? We aren't to slander anyone (including those in authorities).